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Matlacha Hookers raffling hand-made rocking horses

By Staff | Jan 3, 2012

Photo provided Bokeelia resident Herbie Hellinger handcrafted Blondie from birch and cherry wood and donated the rocking horse to the Matlacha Hookers for a raffle to raise money for its scholarship fund. Five-dollar raffle tickets can be purchased where she is currently located at Harborside Gallery in Matlacha.

Two hand-carved rocking horses will make appearances around the island at different businesses until February as part of an effort to raise money for the Matlacha Hookers scholarship fund.

Bokeelia resident Herbie Hellinger, a retired cabinetmaker and carpenter, made his first rocking horse a couple of years ago for his granddaughter.

“I had some wood laying around and I made two more,” he said. “Since I have no other grandchildren, I thought I would donate them to the Hookers.”

Hellinger said the Hookers do a lot of good for the community, so he thought it is a good organization to donate the two horses to.

“I hope they get quite a bit of money for it so they can do some scholarships and do some good for some of the kids,” he said.

Hellinger said once he found a pattern for the rocking horse, he cut out the pieces to make the hand-carved creation.

“It is something to do,” he said about why he enjoyed making the horses.

Since Hellinger is retired, he said he worked on and off for a couple hours at a time until the horses were complete.

Matlacha Hookers Madam President Arlene Stornello said Hellinger donated the two horses about a week before Christmas.

“These horses are beautiful,” she said. “We are so excited.”

Individuals will have the opportunity to purchase $5 raffle tickets for a chance to win one of the handcrafted pieces. Stornello said individuals have already begun purchasing raffle tickets for the rocking horses.

She said one of the horses, which they named Red, is at The Sandy Hook Restaurant, and Blondie, the other horse, is at Harborside Gallery in Matlacha.

“Keep your eyes out for these rockin’ horses,” Stornello said, as they will change locations throughout the month.

Red is made from mahogany, birch and purple heart and Blondie was made out of birch and cherry wood.

To view their current location visit www.matlachahookers.org.

The winning ticket will be drawn on Feb. 4 and a member of the Matlacha Hookers will call the winners.

Stornello said the Hookers’ mission is to “make a positive difference in the community,” which they would not be able to continue to do without the donation from Hellinger.

“The monies from the raffles will go towards our scholarship fund,” Stornello said. “In May we award five $1,000 scholarships to area students.”

The club formed in 1998 by founding Madam Nancy Goodwin.

Stornello said Pine Island is a wonderful community and without the residents’ help all the charities on the island could not do the work they do to help so many people.